The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
-Opening line in William Gibson's Neuromancer
I recently took a tour of Best Buys to see what's going on in the world of consumer electronics. Technology was on my mind. I had just been reading up on computer hacking and was getting to know a website called 2600.
It was all because of the latest WikiLeaks revelations and some email conversations I'd been having with fellow anti-war veterans about Bradley Manning. the young army intelligence specialist arrested and now imprisoned in Virginia for allegedly releasing the computerized trove of secrets. Some of my antiwar vet allies were finding it difficult to support Manning.
I agree with Daniel Ellsberg that Bradley Manning is an American hero who needs to be supported and defended. His private life is irrelevant. The same goes for the Australian founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange.
Whether or not the WikiLeaks revelations put anyone in danger is also irrelevant. It's a red herring. Those who chose to go to war over other options and those who keep the wars going instead of ending them are the ones putting our soldiers and local Iraqis and Afghans in danger.
Removing out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan may be a complicated and somewhat ignoble task, but who's to blame for the carnage when we're occupying a place is a no brainer.
Our military occupations relies on a steady stream of kids fueled to serve, many of them working class kids with dim prospects for college and careers in the current high unemployment climate. The dismal economy is good for recruitment.
Thanks to propaganda, a massive public relations effort and poor analytical coverage of the wars, the military looks good to many kids. It's sold as a right of passage to manhood now also to womanhood. You will face danger and your own mortality. You'll be part of a team. Once you're in, all worries about finding a job will evaporate. And the military does all your thinking for you.
Answering the Call Of Duty and "going loud"
As I walked around the cacophony that is a Best Buys store, I thought of American youth and the absolutely mad marketing assault of sensation and seduction they are asked to maneuver through. Seen from the vantage point of my upbringing in the 1950s, it's a virtual science fiction world come true. Computers and cyberspace are the terrain of this world.
The new version of Call Of Duty called Black Ops was being promoted and you could buy it now and pick it up November 9 when it was released. The video promo was incredibly violent and never stopped moving from one explosion to the next. Helicopters were swooping in and out everywhere.
Then there's Medal Of Honor, an Xbox game that features a special ops warrior who looked to me more like a Hell's Angel biker than the clean-cut guys in John Wayne's movie version of The Green Berets. The Special Ops fantasy look has changed.
"Fight today's war," the Xbox version said. "Battle your way through using the overwhelming force of a large mobilized military and the surgical precision of Tier One operations."
On the website for Medal Of Honor  a macho-voice speaks over the swooping choppers and thundering explosions.
"This is the unknown elite, hunting in silence until it's time to go loud. This is force multiplied. Relentless. Exacting. Precise. A new breed of warrior for a new bred of warfare. This is Tier One."